That Man, Is He a Rogue or a Gentleman
pg 16 to scene break on pg 25
Lydia's mom had been a fairy doctor. Until she married Lydia's father, she lived on an northern island and helped the villagers with their issues with fairies. Despite the passage of some centuries, life on that island was virtually unchanged from that of the the Middle Ages.
But that was over twenty years ago.
Even now, while being part of the British Empire, they say that remote islands still maintain their own particular cultures and lifestyles, but Lydia's never been to her mother's hometown.
By marrying an outsider, her mother essentially abandoned her home. So even if Lydia went, most likely, she wouldn't be welcome there.
Having lost her mother when she was young, Lydia had few memories of her mom, but for some reason, the stories her mom told her of fairies was oddly very clear in her mind. The different types of fairies, their personalities, their particular laws, how to get along with them... it was the legacy she passed on to Lydia.
That's why, Lydia decided she too wanted to become a proper fairy doctor. She didn't want to be ashamed of or have to hide the fact that she could see fairies.
Being different should be okay.
Because as long as fairies exist, people will probably need fairy doctors.
Leaving the care of the house to the (hob)goblin* living there, Lydia left with Nico for the port in order to set of to visit her father.
On the sign in front of her house, "Currently closed from business". Most likely, no one would be particularly inconvenienced by that.
Numerous steam boats lined the wharf and crowds of passengers could be seen milling about along the various piles of luggage. From here, she was to catch a ship bound for London.
Nico rode on top of Lydia suitcase as though he were a regular cat.
"Walk with your own feet. It's heavy."
"Walking on all fours is tiring," he said before giving a rather deliberate meow.
"Excuse me, Miss Carlton?"
Lydia stopped upon hearing that voice.
An unknown young man raised his hat and smiled.
"I'm pleased to meet you. Your father is always such a great help. I'm Huskley."
"Umm... you work with my father?"
"Yes, I work as his assistant at the university. I've come to meet you and take you London. Travelling on your own can be very troublesome after all, right?"
He spoke very politely. Most likely he was in his late twenties, but seemed to be quite the gentleman.
"Father asked you to come just to take me to London? That's an abuse of his authority."
"No need to worry. I came to Edinburgh on university business. I sent a person to your home, but no one was home. I was afraid I'd end up missing you."
Lydia couldn't help thinking that her father was being surprisingly thoughtful. When it came to things other than his research, he was affable and easygoing like a child. Much like someone who simply doesn't think of certain things.
"Thank you very much, Mr. Huskley. But how did you know who I am?"
"A lady travelling on her own stands out quite a bit."
Certainly, that was true. Especially, young women who were still unmarried like Lydia. There probably weren't many who would ride a ship on their own. For one thing, her living on her own itself, was almost unthinkable for households of a certain social class. The result of which was that she was even more firmly branded as being eccentric, but they couldn't seem to keep housemaids there very long, so it couldn't be helped.
It's a house where fairies liked to have fun at night.
"Actually, all I knew was that your hair's supposed to be rust...... rather reddish-brown in colour, so I'm very lucky."
He'd been about to say "rust-coloured". Since she was often bothered about being spoken about like that behind her back, it made her feel a little down. Certainly, her hair was a dull reddish-brown and she had a bit of a complex because of that.
She wondered if her father said that about her. Certainly her father was so dense that he probably didn't notice the tiny things that bothered young ladies of age, so perhaps it couldn't be helped.
In any case, Lydia figured that it didn't lessen her opinion of the kind young gentleman, and smiled at him. Even though he could necessarily compliment her on her hair colour, right now, Mr. Huskley seemed to think Lydia was a normal young lady and was treating her as such. So that was enough.
But, most likely, that would change if they were to talk about fairies. And that was something that she couldn't help worrying about. Even though there might not necessarily be any change in outward attitude, no doubt, he'd think she were strange.
Thinking about things that way, in the end Lydia couldn't help maintaining a certain distance with strangers.
'Any way you look at things, I'm me.' she thought to herself as she maintained her composure. Lydia handed Huskley her bag.
While it was heavy for Lydia, he carried it with ease. Nico leapt down from the suitcase when he started walking.
"Hey, are you gonna trust him? It's not like your father to take care of things like this," he murmured.
"What sort of reason could he have for approaching me? If he's after ransom money, he'd go after someone more wealthy-looking, right? Whenever there's any extra money in our house, father uses it to go gather things or for his research."
Nico looked unhappy, but fell silent unable to argue.
There was no need to worry; Huskley led them directly towards the ship Lydia was supposed to ride.
The really surprising thing however...
"Um, my ticket isn't for this sort of upper class private room."
The room she'd been led to was quite spacious.
"Yes, the professor made the reservation himself. So, please use this one. I'm in the room next to you, so if you need anything, please let me know," he said before leaving the room.
In the end, there seemed to be no problem or danger.
"See Nico, you're just being overly suspicious."
Lydia through herself onto one of the beds.
"There's still time before we depart, right?"
Just as she murmured those words, a strange sound came from one corner of the room.
"......What was that?"
The noise had come from the closet. She carefully approached it then through the doors open. It was empty inside. Just as she felt relief, she sensed a presence behind her.
A figure suddenly appeared from behind the curtains, covered Lydia's mouth with a hand, pinning her from behind.
She tried to struggle with all her might, but couldn't move. Nico hissed, his hair standing on end. But he was only a cat. He could do nothing.
"Please, help me......" the intruder whispered in Lydia's ear.
'Help? That's what I want!' Lydia thought as she continued to struggle.
"Please listen quietly. That man....... the one who brought you here, he's the agent of a villain. Something terrible will happen to you if you stay here."
His manner of speech was surprisingly calm and dignified. But Mr. Huskley's the agent of a villain?
When Lydia relaxed, the intruder took his hand away from her mouth having concluded that she wouldn't scream. Even so, he didn't let go of her.
"What do you mean? Who are you?"
"That man caught me and held me prisoner. I managed to escape, and hid in this room. That's when he brought you here. Most likely, he'll realise I escaped soon. But you're also in danger. So I was hoping you'd help me."
"I don't understand."
"There's no time. We need to get away before the ship sets sail. I'll explain fully after. I can only ask that you trust me."
Finally freed, Lydia turned and faced the man.
He was a slender, lanky young man. He had mussed brown hair and his face was stubbled. Studying him carefully, and not fooled by his poor-looking clothes, he seemed young--around twenty years old or so.
Despite his slovenly appearance, his face was strangely refined. He watched Lydia openly with his strong gaze and she couldn't help feeling confused at his almost sweet ash-mauve eyes.
"What'll happen to you if you're caught again?"
"They'll kill me."
More frightening than his words was the blood on his wrists from the chafe marks from having been tied up. There were also a number of thin marks on his neck as though a knife had been held there.
"This room's at the end of the hallway, right? Huskley's probably an alias, but you can't go anywhere without going past that man's room. He intends to keep you under supervision that way. If you go out, his younger brothers will keep an eye on you. There're eight of them--all brothers. Right now, there are six of them on this ship. All of them are strong and very good at fighting. Huskley's the eldest of them and are a unified group committing crimes."
He snuck over to the door.
"Even if you tried sneaking out, they have a string planted across the door so they'd immediately be aware that you went out. Most likely, they're planning on drugging you or something and leaving you at some port somewhere."
Looking carefully, a thin clear thread could be seen glinting close to the door knob. That was more than enough. There was no need for an assistant of her father's who'd been asked to bring her to London to do anything like that.
Lydia crossed her arms and stood before the young man.
"And how do we get away from here?"
* says goblin, but elsewhere, it's usually a hobgoblin that's taking care of the house IIRC
I have to admit, I keep wanting to write "Huxley" instead of "Huskley". :P Apparently, there are four more scenes until the end of this part. >.>